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Columbia Business Monthly

Greenville 50 Most Influential

Jan 11, 2023 03:17PM ● By Donna Isbell Walker

Greenville Business Magazine celebrates another year of honoring the region's most influential people. The selection of our 50 men and women is a result of staff research and community nominations.

We also are celebrating our ninth year of selecting entrants to our Hall of Fame. This year, we're adding seven new members who have continued to make a lasting difference in the Upstate.

HALL OF FAME

 






Mary Duckett

President

Southernside Neighborhood

in Action Neighborhood

Association

Mary Duckett has lived in the Southernside community near downtown Greenville since the 1950s, and she became an advocate and community leader soon after arriving.

Over the years, Duckett has spent countless hours working for the neighborhood’s benefit, picking up litter, helping to build schools, and advocating for help for Southernside when needed.

But for Duckett, community involvement has been a lifelong passion. It started when she was a teenager, distributing fliers about neighborhood events for longtime activist Lila Mae Brock.

In her view, Duckett told The Greenville News in a 2015 interview, “We were a family. I remember hearing the saying, ‘It takes a village to raise a child.’ Southernside was that village.”

Her advocacy and determination have been recognized in recent years. Unity Park, a 60-acre green space and community hub near downtown Greenville, was completed in 2022, and Duckett was given much of the credit for its creation.

Mayor Knox White called Duckett “the heart and soul of Unity Park,” and a plaza at the park was named in her honor.

Duckett, who worked for the South Carolina Department of Corrections for 22 years, has served on many boards and committees in Greenville, including Brockwood Senior Housing and the AJ Whittenberg School of Engineering Task Force.

 






Henry Horowitz

Managing Principal

Oxford Capital Partners

Founder

Artisphere

In 2023, Artisphere, the festival that celebrates arts and culture, will mark 20th anniversary of its founding. Its success is undeniable, as the event brings tens of thousands of people to downtown Greenville every spring.

The festival was created by Henry Horowitz, who at the time was board chairman of Metropolitan Arts Council. In the past two decades, Artisphere has become a staple of the Greenville event calendar. He had also helped to create an arts festival in Oklahoma years earlier.

Arts advocacy is just one facet of what Horowitz has brought to his adopted hometown, and it’s one of the reasons he received the Community Foundation of Greenville’s 2022 Visionary Leadership Award. He also received the Order of the Palmetto in 2019.

Horowitz, who is managing principal of Oxford Capital Partners, has worked in finance for much of his career, a career that includes stints with American Express and Insignia Financial Group Inc.

But in Greenville, the arts are a large facet of Horowitz’s community contributions. Horowitz serves on the boards of the South Carolina Arts Commission, Greenville Ballet, Peace Center, Charity Ball, and Greenville Symphony.

He also has been a board member of Reedy Point, Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Bon Secours Health System, and the Poinsett Club.

Horowitz earned his bachelor’s degree from the Bernard Baruch School of Public and Business Administration. 

 






Danny Joyner

President and CEO

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices

C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS

Danny Joyner is a lifelong resident of Greenville and a Furman University alum. He was born three years after his father founded his eponymous real estate company in 1964, and the young Joyner grew up spending time in the office.

Joyner was a self-described “little office rat” who played games with the agents as a kid and by the time he was in high school, was mowing lawns and painting rental houses.

His first official job was in property management, but he has worked in appraisals, insurance, and residential sales, and he started the commercial division in 1996, serving as president and general manager.

During his time as a broker, Joyner oversaw numerous acquisitions, including the property being used for the Kroc Center, the Historic Chamber Building and Kent Court, as well as development projects such as The Preserve at Parkins Mill and Ridgeland at the Park.

He became president of the C. Dan Joyner Company in 2010 and led the company through the transition to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS in 2013.

The company now has nine Upstate locations and 452 employees, which includes 425 residential real estate agents. Services include residential sales, commercial sales, rental property management, and HOA management.

In 2022, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices C. Dan Joyner, REALTORS was named the No. 1 Large Company in the South Carolina Top Workplaces survey.

 






W. Burke Royster, Ph.D. 

Superintendent 

Greenville County Schools

W. Burke Royster has been superintendent of South Carolina’s largest school district, which also happens to be the 46th largest district in the country, since 2012. Greenville County’s school district educates more than 77,500 students each year.  

Over the past decade, Royster has established the district’s Graduation Plus framework, which outlines the school district’s commitment to ensure that all students are ready for college or career after graduation and are prepared for their next steps in life.  

During the past decade of Royster’s leadership, the graduation rate in Greenville County has risen 12.4 points to 84.8 percent.  

Among his many honors, Royster has been named an Education Week Leader to Learn From, and he was chosen as the South Carolina Association of School Administrators 2018 Superintendent of the Year. He serves on the governing board of the American Association of School Administrators: The School Superintendents Association and has served as the chair of the Large Countywide and Suburban District Consortium.  

Royster began his career in the classroom in 1980, as a teacher and coach at Starr-Iva Middle School in Anderson County. He moved into administration three years later when he became assistant principal of Monaview Middle School in Greenville County. After stints in Rock Hill and Georgetown, Royster returned to Greenville County in 1994, and he was named assistant superintendent for GCS in 1999. 

He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Clemson University, and received a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policies from the University of South Carolina.  

Royster’s goals for 2023 include working with the Board of Trustees and GCS employees to continue to increase the number of students graduating with college credit and/or industry certifications, further improve the recruitment and retention of quality employees, and continue the district’s successful efforts to move student achievement beyond pre-pandemic levels. 

 






Art Seaver

Founder and CEO

Southern First Bank

R. Arthur “Art” Seaver, Jr., is the founder and chief executive officer of Southern First Bank and its holding company, Southern First Bancshares. 

Southern First opened in 1999 and now operates in 12 locations in the Greenville, Columbia, and Charleston markets of South Carolina as well as the Charlotte, Triangle, and Triad regions of North Carolina, and Atlanta, Georgia, with approximately $3.4 billion in total assets. 

Seaver is a 1986 graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in financial management and a 1999 graduate of the BAI Graduate School of Community Bank Management. He is passionate about making a difference in the Greenville community, having been involved with several nonprofits through the years and giving of his time and resources to impact the lives of those around him. 

Seaver serves on the board of the Phillis Wheatley Community Center. He is a past chairman of the board for the United Way of Greenville County and past chair of the Palmetto Society. Past organizations he has worked with include the Community Depository Institutions Advisory Council, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, board of directors, Thornblade Club board of directors, South Carolina Bankers Association, Leadership Greenville, Greenville Chamber of Commerce, South Carolina Network of Business and Education Partnership, Junior Achievement, Greenville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Junior League, and First Presbyterian Church of Greenville.

 






Deborah McKetty

President

South Carolina Community Loan Fund

Deborah McKetty, a Greenville native, is president of the SC Community Loan Fund (SCCLF), a statewide Community Development Financial Institution. The mission of SCCLF is to advance equitable access to capital to build assets and benefit communities and people most in need of economic opportunity by providing loans, technical assistance, advocacy, and knowledge for the development of affordable housing, healthy food enterprises, community facilities, and community businesses. 

To date, SCCLF has financed more than $80 million in loans and $35 million in New Market Tax Credits (NMTC) throughout the state, resulting in $510.8 million in community development projects, including 2,514 housing units, 33 community facilities, and creation of 61 small businesses creating or retaining more than 4,009 jobs.  

McKetty has more than 30 years’ experience working in the community economic development field as a banker and nonprofit leader. She has served in leadership roles in several local, state, and regional organizations, including United Way of Greenville County, Greenville Chamber Board of Advisors, CommunityWorks Carolina, Greenville Housing Fund, SCACED, SC Community Capital Alliance, Richmond FED Community Investment Community, and the Self-Help Credit Union Board. 

She has received notable recognition for her efforts to promote social and economic justice for low-wealth families and communities. In 2018 she received the Greenville Chamber’s Athena Women’s Leadership Award and has received recognition by Greenville Business Magazine’s as one of the “50 Most Influential.” 

She is a member of Long Branch Baptist Church where she puts her faith into action by investing in people and building healthy communities.  

 






David Wise

President

Harper General Contractors

David Wise has more than 30 years of experience in the construction industry, most of it spent with Greenville’s Harper General Contractors. He worked as a project manager and project executive before becoming company president in 2012.

He’s been both an advocate and a hands-on leader for his team at Harper, managing a diverse portfolio of projects in the commercial, education, institutional, and industrial markets. The company’s work includes Fountain Inn High School, Prisma Health at Verdae, the newly opened Unity Park in Greenville, and Union County Carnegie Library.

Harper is headquartered in Greenville with offices in Spartanburg and Conway, South Carolina, and Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina, and its projects average $2 million to $25 million. Sustainability is an important factor in Harper’s work, and the company’s Environmental Services Division expanded to a downtown Greenville office in 2016.

In 2018, Harper was nationally recognized by Engineering News Record as one of the Top 400 construction firms in the United States.

Wise also puts an emphasis on philanthropy, and the company has donated more than $1 million to local charities.

Wise graduated from Presbyterian College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and business in 1983.


Now here are Greenville's 50 Most Influential:

 





Michael Allen

CEO/Architect

MOA Architecture Inc.

Michael Allen has more than 20 years of experience in architectural design, business development, and project management, including LEED and Green Globe Sustainability projects. He has helmed projects in the arenas of education, civic, cultural, commercial, and sports and recreation.

Allen says he believes that design can help create a world where all people feel included, powerful, and free in the spaces where they live, work, and play, and that was his goal in founding MOA Architecture.

His community involvement includes membership on the boards of several organizations, including Liberty Fellowship, Spartanburg Methodist College, and the State Chamber of Commerce Diversity Council.

A former Clemson University football player, Allen serves on the Greenville Community Remembrance Project Monument Committee and is a former member of the Greenville City Planning Commission, Greenville Tech Foundation Board and former chair of the Clemson University Black Alumni Council.

 






Gail Wilson Awan, Ph.D.

President and CEO

Urban League of the Upstate

Gail Wilson Awan began her tenure as president/CEO of the Urban League of the Upstate in September 2021. As an affiliate of the National Urban League, the mission of the ULUS is to empower African Americans and other underserved individuals throughout the region.

Awan has dedicated her life to serving the underrepresented. She has taken part in leadership programs including The Riley Institute’s Diversity Leaders Initiative, Prisma Health’s Medical Scholars and Leadership Spartanburg. She is part of the leadership team of the Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission and is a collaborating partner with Ten at the Top.

Prior to joining Urban League of the Upstate, Awan worked as executive director and vice president of City Year in Columbia. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Winthrop University and a Ph.D. from Walden University.

 






Joseph Baldassarra

President

Broadstreet Private Equity

Joseph Baldassarra established Broadstreet Global Fund in 2015 with his brother Steven after nearly 20 years of experience in financial services. He serves as president of Broadstreet Inc., and fund manager of Broadstreet Global Fund.

Prior to Broadstreet, Baldassarra was a co-founder of CJS Financial Advisors, a full-service financial firm. This included recently managing the CJS Technology Select Fund, which specializes in investments in proven, late-stage, pre-IPO companies. Baldassarra focuses on relationship management and strategic growth.

Baldassarra began his career as an independent registered representative with LaSalle Securities, where he focused on servicing high-net-worth clients. Baldassarra and his family live in Greenville.

 






Ben Barfield

Vice President and Division Manager

Brasfield & Gorrie LLC

Barfield, who oversees Brasfield & Gorrie’s Greenville office, started working construction in high school. A graduate of Auburn University's building science program, he has spent his 27-year career securing his division's work and supporting its project teams.

Barfield led the opening of Brasfield & Gorrie's office in the ONE building in downtown Greenville, where the company also built other parts of the development. and has helped to build and upfit commercial office buildings, hotels, the federal courthouse, high-rise apartments multifamily structures, and large-scale industrial projects. He is also a board member of Clemson CSM, C12, American Heart Association, Greenville Chamber, and Hope Church.

 






Meghan Barp

President and CEO

United Way of Greenville County

Meghan Barp is a mission-driven strategist, community builder, and advocate who has the privilege of leading an extraordinary team as the president and CEO of United Way of Greenville County. She partners with civic, business, and nonprofit leaders in the Upstate to build pathways to prosperity for more than 60,000 people experiencing poverty in the community.

Barp frequently presents on philanthropy and volunteerism, and often provides expert consultation to corporations and other organizations. She has been recognized as a distinguished alumna by her alma mater, the University of Nebraska Kearney. She is actively involved in the International Women’s Forum, is a co-founder of Greenville’s Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission, and serves on the board of directors for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce.

Barp said her ongoing goal is to ensure that everyone in the community has a shot at participating during this period of tremendous growth and prosperity in the Upstate.

 






Mike Baur

Chairman and CEO

ScanSource Inc.

Mike Baur co-founded ScanSource, Inc. in 1992 in Greenville, where the company is now headquartered. It has grown to be a $3.5 billion, Fortune 1000, and publicly traded company, and has also grown from six employees to 2,500 worldwide employees. He has led ScanSource to this success through his people-centered approach and his passion for entrepreneurship. 

Prior to serving as chairman and chief executive officer, Baur was president of ScanSource. He has been on the board of directors since 1995 and has served as chairman since February 2019. Before co-founding ScanSource, he served in several management roles in the technology and distribution industries. 

A supporter of philanthropy and his community, Baur also instituted the ScanSource Charitable Foundation and serves on the board of directors for Upstate Forever. He founded Five Oaks Academy, a Montessori School serving children from toddlers to middle schoolers, with his wife, Laura. 

 






Kenzie Biggins

CEO

Worxbee Inc.

Kenzie Biggins' company redefined the way executive assistants work by using virtual corporate support technology for executives and clients including Walmart, Gap, Bank of America, and Target.

Highlighted by "60 Minutes" in 2021 for her firm's success during the pandemic, Biggins moved to Greenville from Atlanta. A graduate of the Greenville Chamber's Minority Business Accelerator program, she also completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Program at Babson College and Dartmouth's Tuck Executive Education program.

Kenzie has a BS from Florida State University and an MFA from the Savannah School of Art and Design. She looks forward to launching additional products and "resources that will create more clarity around roles, transparency when accessing talent and easy access to support needed by leaders" in 2023, says Biggins.      

 






Dennis Braasch

Owner, Advisory Board Member

Industrial Project Innovation, LLC

Dennis Braasch is one of five founders and owners of Industrial Project Innovation, LLC, which works with leading companies in the automotive, electric vehicle battery, food, aerospace, and aluminum industries to plan, procure, and deliver industrial facilities in compliance with industry best practices.

The company was founded in 2015, and to date has managed approximately $10 billion in capital projects. In 2022, IPI was honored as South Carolina’s Fastest Growing Company by Integrated Media Publishing.

Prior to joining IPI, Braasch worked with the Fluor Corporation, spearheading global construction operations, global project controls, and the  industrial business unit.

In 1999, Braasch co-founded Global Performance LLC, which grew to 800 employees before being sold to Mustang Engineering (Wood Group) in 2006.

Braasch serves on the boards of United Way of Greenville County and the Phillis Wheatley Community Center.

 






Jeanette Brewster

Program Director

Village Launch

Rhonda Rawlings

Community Director

Mill Village Ministries

Jeanette Brewster is the program director at Village Launch, a nonprofit entrepreneur support organization under Mill Village Ministries. Over the last four years she has been committed to creating economic growth and equality through entrepreneurship training, mentorship, and market access.

Village Launch has a focus on minority- and women-owned startups in the Greenville area. In the four years she has been there, she has increased the number of programs offered, launched a monthly market (Third Thursday Market), and increased long-term support for newly launched businesses.

Rhonda Rawlings is the community director for Mill Village Ministries. She is also an award-winning journalist, radio host and public speaker. Rawlings can be heard on the radio airwaves in over 20 different markets across the country bringing encouragement to listeners as a part of "Pastor Lenny's Praise Party" on Salem Radio. She is also the founder of "Uplift Upstate," a social media initiative focused on events, travel, culinary experiences and inspiring people.

 






Paul Brocklebank

President and CEO

Canal Insurance

Paul Brocklebank had led Canal Insurance since 2017. He has overseen the 82-year-old firm’s expansion into a new 65,000 square foot headquarters on downtown Greenville’s North Main Street.

Under his leadership, Canal, which provides insurance and risk management for the commercial trucking industry, also hired 85 new employees in the past three years. 

He shares a keen interest in digital technologies and innovation, and actively supported the launch of pioneer new digital insurance products for the company, including TestDrive and Miles Per Canal, which are usage-based telematics verified platforms.   

A Pittsburgh native, Brocklebank is a graduate of Westminster College, Carnegie Mellon University and the Duquesne University School of Law.

He serves on the executive advisory council and enterprise risk management committee of the American Property and Casualty Insurance Association and has been involved in community programs such as the Greenville Health System Medical Scholars.

 






Nathan Brown

CEO

Kiona Technologies

Nathan Brown has spent the last 20 years working in the world of analytics, strategy, technology and international business, bringing to life smarter ways to get things done. He is the founder of Kiona Technologies, a global data-science company operating in North America and Europe. Brown is also the co-founder and president of the Upstate SC LGBT+ Chamber of Commerce, which fosters safety, prosperity, and empowerment for the Upstate LGBTQ+ community.

Previously, he led award-winning technology teams at DuPont and BlueCross BlueShield, guiding enterprise systems from concept to implementation.

As a serial entrepreneur, Brown builds companies with the guiding principles of inclusiveness, excellence, and empowerment.

A graduate of Duke University Graduate School and the USC School of Business, Brown has a boundless curiosity and lifelong fascination for the weird and wonderful world around us. He is the co-parent of an 11-year-old seventh-grader who attends school in Greenville County.

As a bisexual human who often feels like an outsider, he utilizes his own experiences to give voice and strength to folks who may otherwise feel alone.

 






William Brown

Founder and Board Chair

Legacy Early College

William Brown’s belief in the success of every child is reflected in his passion for creating opportunities where children can “be all they can be.” He founded the school in 2010, and it’s now the largest Title I school in Greenville, with approximately 1,600 students in K4 through 12th grade.

The school’s model combines academic excellence, physical fitness, and nutrition, working toward the goal of seeing every student through college graduation. In addition to his work with Legacy, Brown has served on the boards of the Peace Center, Greenville Tech Foundation, and Greenville Symphony. He is now the board chair for Artisphere. He and his wife Karen have four children and six grandchildren.

 






Matthew Caldwell

Market President

Bon Secours St. Francis Health System

Matthew Caldwell began his career in nursing, working in critical care, recovery room, orthopedic post-operative care, and as a case manager. He eventually moved into health care administration, serving as CEO at hospitals in Tennessee, Ohio, and Texas before coming to Bon Secours St. Francis Health System in Greenville in 2019.

In June 2022, Bon Secours announced a partnership with Compass Surgical Partners to create Millennium Surgery Center, which will perform orthopedic, spine, and ENT procedures.

Caldwell has a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Bethel College in Kansas and a master’s in health care administration from University of Texas at Arlington.

 






Mike Callahan

President

Duke Energy South Carolina

As president of Duke Energy South Carolina, Mike Callahan focuses on creating a 21st century electric grid in the state. He oversees $7.6 billion in annual economic impact across the state, and he also manages Duke Energy’s energy transition in South Carolina with the goal of achieving net-zero carbon emissions for electricity generation by 2050. He is excited to help drive the path to cleaner energy, which is further enabling companies in South Carolina to grow and encouraging others to locate their companies in the state. 

He joined Duke Energy in 2002 as a senior consultant in the audit services group. Prior to being named president in 2019, Callahan served in multiple leadership positions, including Duke Energy’s vice president of investor relations. 

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He serves on the boards of directors for the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. 

 






Halsey Cook

President and CEO

Milliken & Co.

Halsey Cook became the first external CEO of Milliken & Co. in 2018. Prior to joining Milliken, Cook was president and CEO of Sonepar USA, the world’s largest distributor of electrical infrastructure products.

His previous work experience included senior P+L roles in manufacturing and technology companies, including president of Legrand Electrical as well as 17 years in Carrier Corp., where he held roles in France, Italy, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Cook is a graduate of Sewanee The University of The South where he obtained his bachelor’s degree in economics and English. He also received his MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business. Halsey serves as a trustee on the Belle W. Baruch Foundation in South Carolina. Additionally, he is a board member of the Alliance to End Plastic Waste, the National Association of Manufacturers, and is a Director of Southwire Co., a leading global manufacturer of wire, cable and tools based in Carrollton, Georgia.

 






Ashley Prickett Cuttino

Office Managing Shareholder

Ogletree Deakins

As the Greenville Office Managing Shareholder for Ogletree Deakins, one of the nation’s largest labor and employment law firms, Ashley Prickett Cuttino is a litigator representing employers in single- and multi-plaintiff actions. She also provides advice on complex and multi-state compliance issues. 

She has experience in all areas of employment law and is a member of the firm’s Trial Practice Group and is the co-chair of the Ogletree Covid-19 Litigation Practice Group. Her past litigation experience includes employment litigation, personal injury litigation, medical malpractice defense, asbestos defense, and complex tort defense.

Cuttino is a member of the Greenville Chamber Board of Directors, the former chair of the Ogletree Women’s Initiative, past president of the South Carolina Women Lawyers Association, and is a former member of the Clemson University Board of Visitors. 

 






Stephen Edgerton

President and CEO

Coldwell Banker Caine

Stephen Edgerton is president and CEO of CB Caine, which includes Coldwell Banker Caine and the company's related real estate divisions. More than 10 years ago, Edgerton joined Caine as chief operating officer and began evolving the then-75-year-old firm. Today the organization is known for its innovative attitude, its hundreds of high-caliber associates, and its deep commitment to community.

Edgerton serves as chairman of the board of directors for the Metro Greenville YMCA and a board member for Artisphere and Visit Greenville SC. He is also a member of the Young Presidents Organization.

He has been involved in philanthropic efforts, including his leadership of the company’s Caine Cares program, which impacts the Upstate through programs focused on human services, animal welfare, arts, and health and wellness. Outside of work, he is involved in Meals on Wheels, delivering to the same route for more than 10 years.

 






Ford Elliott

Chief Executive Officer

Contender

Ford Elliott is the top executive for Contender, a real estate development firm with more than $1 billion in active real estate development projects throughout the Southeast. He is also Chairman of BlackStream, one of his businesses, with over $700 million in annual sales.

Elliott founded his business in his 20s, and the company now has more than 200 team members.

Contender, headquartered in Greenville, has projects in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. Elliott has helmed dozens of projects, including 35 residential communities, six Marriott hotels, and 17 restaurants.

In 2021, BlackStream’s partnership with Christie’s International Real Estate generated much success, with BlackStream being named Christie’s International Real Estate’s Small Market Affiliate of the Year.

Elliott, who attended Clemson University, is also a licensed general contractor and real estate broker.   

 






Robert Engelhorn

President and CEO

BMW Manufacturing Co.

Robert Engelhorn became president and CEO of BMW Manufacturing Co. in 2021. He leads BMW Group Plant Spartanburg, the largest BMW Group Plant in the world, which produces more than 1,500 vehicles per day and exports more than 60 percent of its vehicles to about 120 global markets.  

Engelhorn joined BMW Group in 2011 and occupied several positions at the Munich and Regensburg plants in Germany. In 2016, he moved to the BMW Brilliance Automotive joint venture in China. In 2018, he took over as director for BMW Group Plant Munich. 

He serves on the board of directors for Autos Drive America and is also a board member for the German American Chamber of Commerce of the Southern United States. 

 






Jody Gallagher

President and Chief Executive Officer

AFL

Jody Gallagher has been president and CEO of AFL, which is headquartered in Duncan, South Carolina, since 2003. The company was created to manufacture fiber optic ground wire and has acquired more than two dozen companies since the 1990s.

Gallagher, who began his career in 1979 with Alcoa, has been with the company for more than 40 years, and in his leadership role, he has helped to cultivate the business relationship between AFL and its parent company, Fujikura, helping to balance each entity’s strengths and assets.

A graduate of Clarkson University, Gallagher is involved in several local organizations, including the  Upstate Alliance and United Way, and has served on the board for the South Carolina Governor’s School for Science and Mathematics Foundation.

 






Alexis Garcin

President and CEO

Michelin North America

Alexis Garcin has led Michelin North America and the company’s 22,500 employees as president and CEO since 2019. He is responsible for coordinating all the company’s activities, which includes over $9.9 billion in sales. As a leader, he puts people first and is progress-oriented. 

His career with Michelin began in 2002 as a car dealer in France, and it has spanned multiple countries and positions, including Strategic Marketing Director for the Bus and Truck Division. Before joining Michelin, he also held positions at BOSCH Group. 

Garcin holds a degree in Economical Science from University Lumiere in Lyon, France and a master’s degree in Business and Management from Saint-Etienne Business School. He serves on the board of the United States Tire Manufacturers Association. 

 






Jonathan Good

CEO, Broker-in-Charge, and Shareholder

NAI Earle Furman

As chief executive officer of the commercial real estate firm NAI Earle Furman, Jonathan Good leads six offices in North Carolina and South Carolina, and he also oversees NAI Piedmont Triad and is president of NAI Columbia.

A graduate of Furman University, Good joined the company in 2000, focusing in the beginning on industrial and investment properties. He was elected to the role of shareholder in 2005 and named CEO in 2011.

He coordinates broker training and development, and has directed the restructuring of several of the company’s divisions. He also led the merger and acquisitions of several additional brokerage firms.

Good is a member of the Young Presidents Association and was part of the Aspen Institute’s Liberty Fellowship Class of 2020.

 

 





S. Richard Hagins

CEO

US&S Inc.

S. Richard Hagins served the U.S. for 23 years as a naval officer before settling in Greenville in 2000, where he founded facility service company US&S Inc. in 2003. He previously served as commanding officer for Naval Reserve Centers in Greenville; Newport, Rhode Island; and Columbia South Carolina.

His past community involvement includes serving as chairman of the board for the Greenville Chamber of Commerce (2020), programs committee chair for the Greenville Metro YMCA Board, and chairman of the board for the Blood Connection. Hagins was also appointed by Governor Mark Sanford as chairman of the Commission of Minority Affairs (4th District) and has served on the SC State Port Authority Board as treasurer. A charter member of 100 Black Men of the Upstate, Hagins currently serves on the board of Prisma Health, Habitat of Humanity Greenville, and Upstate Warrior Solutions, where he hopes to "ensure the success of all veterans" in entrepreneurship, homelessness and career development. 

 






Bennie Harris, Ph.D.

Chancellor

University of South Carolina Upstate

The fifth chancellor to lead USC Upstate, Harris arrived in 2021 with priorities for the university that included college-to-career tracks, regional economic development, and brand development.

His Reimagine Upstate Summit brought the campus together to listen to and propose ideas for student recruitment, retention and the university's impact in the region. Harris also launched the Spartanburg Promise Scholarship program, which offers 90 talented high school seniors from Spartanburg County the chance to earn a degree without debt. He serves on boards including the Spartanburg Academic Movement, Ten at the Top, OneSpartanburg, The Charles Lea Center Administrative Board, United Way of the Piedmont, the Franklin School, and NCAA Big South Conference.

He is also a member of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce Accelerate Steering Committee and Prisma Health Medical Scholars program.

 






Sean Hartness

CEO

Hartness Construction; Hartness Development

Sean Hartness is CEO of Hartness Construction and Hartness Development. Additionally, Hartness is an owner of King and Society, a full-service real estate, construction and development firm in Charleston.

In keeping with his family's roots in the packaging industry, Hartness has also established Motus, a robotics, automation and packaging-equipment solutions company that develops machines to create biodegradable and compostable commercial goods. He is committed to sustainable development, the preservation of the natural landscape and nurturing local entrepreneurs.

Hartness and his family continue to support community events and organizations, with Hartness recently serving as the host site for TD SYNNEX’s 2022 Share the Magic Gala. He has served on the boards of the Airplane Owners and Pilots Association, Community Foundation of Greenville, Furman University, Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville Revitalization Corp., the Peace Center, and Triple Tree Aerodrome.

 






Justin Hawkins

South Carolina | Coastal Georgia Regional Banking Director

Wells Fargo Bank

Justin Hawkins leads Wells Fargo consumer and small business banking operations across South Carolina and Coastal Georgia. He leads a team of 925 employees in 108 bank branches. Wells Fargo Bank holds the No. 1 market-share position in South Carolina at $20.6 billion.

A 19-year company veteran, Hawkins previously served as the area president of the Upstate market. Prior to that, he held multiple leadership positions with Wells Fargo, including financial center manager, service leader, district manager, and regional sales and marketing manager for South Carolina.

Hawkins graduated from Furman University’s Riley Institute of Diversity in 2010. He is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in both his personal and professional lives.

Based in Greenville, Hawkins is an active community leader. He serves on the Executive Board of Directors for the South Carolina Banker Association as well as the Federal Legislative Committee. Hawkins also serves on the Board of Directors and Public Policy Committee of the Greer Chamber of Commerce.

Hawkins represents Wells Fargo in all aspects of the community, including philanthropic giving.

 






Joan Herlong

CEO/Founder

Joan Herlong & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty

Joan Herlong has worked in real estate since 1993, and was the No. 1-ranked Realtor in the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors from 2009 to 2019.

In 2017, Sotheby’s International Realty approached Herlong based on her company’s record of performance and reputation for integrity. After several months of intense due diligence, Herlong became convinced that, in addition to the unmatchable resources Sotheby’s would bring to the table, the company’s approach to business was consistent with her own, so she launched Joan Herlong & Associates Sotheby’s International Realty.

The company has tripled in sales volume and the number of agents since the new company’s founding. In 2022, she set a new record for single-family sale with an $8.9 million deal.

 






Randy Jackson Sr.

President

First Merchant Services LLC

Executive Director

Phillis Wheatley Community Center

In his job with First Merchant Services, Randy Jackson Sr. oversees payment processing including debit/credit card transactions for Visa, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.

First Merchant also manages merchant programs like Check Guarantee Services, Payment Gateway Services for internet commerce and as well as more services for a variety of retailers and businesses.

As executive director of Phillis Wheatley, Jackson added emergency food services and programming in virtual formats at the center in the wake of Covid-19, helping the community stay healthy and engaged. He plans to continue to serve the underinvested and underserved in the area: "We want to see everyone achieve their dreams," he says.  

 






Marjorie R. Jenkins, M.D.

Dean

USC School of Medicine Greenville

Chief Academic Officer

Prisma Health Upstate

Dr. Marjorie Jenkins is the second dean of the USC School of Medicine Greenville, a position she has held since 2019.

Before coming to Greenville, Jenkins served as tenured professor of medicine and associate dean at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, and as founder and chief science office of the Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health.

In addition, she was invited by the United States FDA to serve as director of medical and scientific initiatives for the Office of Women’s Health, a position she held from 2015 to 2019.

She founded the U.S. Sex and Gender Education Summit, which has become an annual event, and is the co-author of the textbook “How Sex and Gender Impact Clinical Practice: An Evidence-Based Guide to Patient Care,” published in 2020.

Through her work at USC School of Medicine Greenville, Jenkins is working to transform health care education while helping to address South Carolina’s ongoing shortage of physicians. 

 








Merle Johnson

Director, Economic and Community Development

City of Greenville

And John McDonough

City Manager

City of Greenville

John McDonough serves as chief executive officer for the city of Greenville and is responsible for the day-to-day operation of city government. Merle Johnson is Greenville’s Director of Economic and Community Development, a role that includes leading the city’s efforts to strengthen the business environment and economy while ensuring that Greenville maintains its unique character.

Under their leadership, the past three years have brought much development. The city has completed construction and successfully opened Unity Park; launched a new economic-development brand and campaign focused on innovation and entrepreneurship; approved the $1 billion County Square Redevelopment Project; and planned and approved a $36 million Neighborhood Infrastructure Bond Program.

 






Richard Kessler

Chairman and CEO

The Kessler Collection

Richard Kessler has served as Chairman and CEO of The Kessler Enterprise Inc., a nationally recognized hospitality leader, for the past 35 years. Throughout his leadership, Kessler has helped develop outstanding hospitality practices nationwide in multiple facets of the industry. He oversees a portfolio of 1,200 luxury boutique properties in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, and Colorado, and he has been a part of many historical renovations.

One of his latest projects is the new Grand Bohemian Hotel in downtown Greenville.

He has worked in the field of hotel development and hotel management for 50 years. Prior to his position at The Kessler Enterprise, he was president and chairman of Days Inn America. 

Kessler has served on several boards, including serving as chairman of the board for Lutheran Brotherhood and serving as both chairman and founder of the New Ebenezer Conference and Retreat Center. He has also sponsored several scholarship programs for high schools and colleges. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgia Institute of Technology. 

 






James Jordon

Founder/President

Jordon Construction Company

James Jordon is the founder of both the Jordon Development Company and the JCC General Contractors. He has more than two decades of construction experience, and his company’s work includes projects for Prisma Health and Coca-Cola, as well as residential projects.

In addition, Jordon has partnered with such organizations as the Urban League of the Upstate and Greenville Housing Fund to build and renovate affordable housing.

He has served on the boards of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce, Greenville Tech Foundation, and Upstate Empowerment Committee.

In 2022, Jordon was named South Carolina Minority Small Business Person of the Year by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

 






Mark Masaschi

Senior Partner and Development Specialist

KDS Commercial Properties

Masaschi began his commercial real estate career in 1999 after having served as International Export Manager for Georgia Pacific in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean for 10 years. He has developed retail projects totaling over $250 million, and in 2019 brokered the $1 billion University Ridge redevelopment partnership in Greenville, remaining involved as the local partner with Roca Point assisting with economic development and government relations.

Masaschi has helped KDS become one of the fastest growing commercial real estate companies in the Upstate, recruiting Mast General Store to Greenville's downtown and creating a critical catalyst for the downtown retail scene. A graduate of Clemson University, he also serves on the board of South State Bank. 

 






Dustin McCoy

Partner

BDO USA LLP

Upstate native Dustin McCoy started his first business, a residential painting company, at the age of 16. His interest in supporting businesses led him to degrees from Furman and Clemson and close to 10 years of serving public and private companies before joining BDO.

His experience with BDO includes a wide range of tax compliance and tax accrual across industries including private equity, manufacturing and distribution, food industry and closely held businesses.

Local businesses are a particular focus, and his growing office has a goal of equipping firms with proven expertise. McCoy is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the South Carolina Association of Certified Public Accountants.

 






Brian McKay

President/CEO

Spero Financial

A native of Columbia, Brian McKay began his career with Spero Financial (formerly SC Telco Federal Credit Union) in 2004. Since 2007, he has been a part of the executive leadership team, and in April 2020 was officially named president and CEO. 

The first six of his almost 25 years in banking were spent at First Citizens Bank in Columbia, South Carolina, where he held many different positions. In addition to his role as president/CEO of Spero Financial, he is actively involved in the community as: chairman of the Langston Charter Middle School board of directors, board member of the Carolinas Credit Union League, member of the Advisory Council for Homes of Hope, and a member of the Greenville Rotary Club.

A current board member of Innovative Business Solutions, McKay is also a past president of the board for the Upstate Chapter of the SC Credit Union League. 







 Patrick Michaels

CEO

Goodwill Industries of Upstate/Midlands SC

Patrick Michaels has been CEO of the Upstate and Midlands chapter of Goodwill Industries since 2007, after spending seven years with Goodwill of New Mexico.

Michaels received the 2022 Goodwill Industries International Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Champion Award, which recognizes Goodwill employees who go above and beyond to implement the group’s commitment to DEI within a local Goodwill organization.

Michaels was lauded for his commitment to employees through regular DEI-centered town hall meetings, DEI training initiatives, and commitment to representation among board, staff, and Goodwill leadership.

He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Central Washington University.

 






Stacey D. Mills

Executive Director

Greenville Racial Equity and Economic Mobility Commission (REEM)

Stacey Mills is the executive director of Greenville’s Race Equity and Economic Mobility Commission, and he also serves as senior pastor to the historic Mountain View Baptist Church. In the coming year, he plans to increase awareness for REEM’s work in the community related to its five strategic priorities. 

Prior to his current positions, Reverend Mills served as assistant pastor at Mount Moriah Baptist Church. He also taught students who were at risk of dropping out of high school in the Jobs for America’s Graduates. He was Assistant Director of Student Life responsible for Multicultural Student Services, Leadership Programs, and NPHC Greek Life at USC Upstate, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. In April 2016, he became Vice Chancellor for Regional Engagement and Executive Director of USC Upstate Greenville Campuses. 

Mills serves as chairman of the Urban League of the Upstate board of directors and is involved in United Way initiatives. He lives in Greenville with his wife and children. 

 






Boyd B. “Nick” Nicholson Jr.

Managing director

Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd P.A.

Boyd B. “Nick” Nicholson Jr. has served as the managing director of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd, P.A. since 2013. He practices in the areas of procurement and government contracts, local government law, and construction law. His clients include municipal and county governments, state agencies, higher education institutions, nonprofit organizations, business owners, and contractors. 

He was named the Best Lawyers 2022 “Lawyer of the Year” for Construction Law in Greenville, S.C. He was also recognized as a Legal Elite of the Upstate in Construction Law and Government Relations Law by Greenville Business Magazine. In 2019, he received the Compleat Lawyer award from the University of South Carolina School of Law Alumni Council, which recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the legal profession and exemplify the highest standards of professional competence, ethics, and integrity. 

Nicholson has served on the boards of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Public Charter School Alliance of South Carolina, and Meyer Center for Special Children. He is a graduate of Leadership South Carolina and Leadership Greenville. 

 






Mark O’Halla

President and CEO

Prisma Health

President and Chief Executive Officer Mark O’Halla joined Prisma Health in July 2019. Under his leadership, the organization’s leaders have streamlined operations, strengthened quality scores and developed innovative initiatives.

O’Halla invested $205 million in Prisma Health’s team to bring all wages up to market rates, enhance retention, and lift the area's economic landscape. Additionally, he mobilized the organization to address the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic.

He has more than 30 years of healthcare experience in senior executive roles, including 13 years with Michigan-based McLaren Health Care. O'Halla is active in the American College of Healthcare Executives and serves on the boards of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the South Carolina Hospital Association.  

 






Krish Patel

Founder

KVP Inc.

Krish Patel has been an entrepreneur since his college days, when he had to write a business plan for class at University of South Carolina Upstate. That business plan led to him opening a Verizon Wireless store in 2008.

His Verizon store empire eventually grew to 50 stores and nearly 300 employees in five states; he sold the last of those stores in 2020. .

Patel later founded KVP Inc., a private equity management and real estate development firm that focuses on diversification in the real estate industry.

His other entrepreneurial endeavors include Soul Yoga, which opened its first location in 2015 and its second in 2019.

He serves on the boards of the Urban League of the Upstate, United Community Bank, and the city of Greenville Zoning Appeals Board, and is a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization and Young Presidents Organization.

 






Beth Paul

General Manager 

Bon Secours Wellness Arena

General manager since 2015, Beth Paul has managed the arena through challenging times, increasing operating revenues, profits, and the number of annual events. Securing noteworthy acts including Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney, and the Eagles, she has also increased the diversity of events by securing the return of the NCAA Division 1 Men's Basketball Tournament as well as a multi-year contract to host the SEC Women's Basketball Tournament.

Managing the Greenville Arena District's 30-year Capital Improvement Plan, Paul is also involved in the venue's community outreach program. Prior to her return to the arena, she served as director of finance for the Connecticut-based Arena at Harbor Yard. Paul is a board member of VisitGreenville and has been selected for the Riley Institute at Furman University's Diversity Leaders Initiative (2016).  

 






Mark Peters

Partner

M Peters Group

After 30 years with the real estate group Britt, Peters, and Associates, which he co-founded, Mark Peters created M Peters Group in 2021.

M Peters Group is a real estate development company focused on land and abandoned buildings in need of redevelopment but which must overcome significant financial, legal, environmental, and cultural barriers.

In 2022, Peters’ company was involved in the development of a mixed-use project in downtown Spartanburg that would create retail, office, and living space on East Main Street, and the Plush Mills revitalization in downtown Greenville is expected to be complete in 2023.

 






Scott Powell

President and CEO

Craig Gaulden Davis Architecture

Scott Powell is the third president of Craig Gaulden Davis Architecture, a regional architecture and interior design firm that recently celebrated 65 years of practice. The award-winning firm, known for thoughtful design, has changed the landscape of Greenville by designing significant projects including the Greenville County Museum of Art, the Peace Center, and the Hughes Main Library.

Powell joined the firm in 1993 and has led CGD’s K12 education studio for over 20 years, designing innovative schools in the Upstate and across South Carolina including A.J. Whittenberg Elementary School for Engineering and Fountain Inn High School.

Powell is passionate about education and serving the community. He is past president and current board member of the Association for Learning Environments. He has served on both the city and county boards of zoning appeals and was a founding board member of the Triune Mercy Center. Powell has served as a president of the Rotary Club of Greenville and is a graduate of Leadership Greenville, Leadership South Carolina, and Furman University’s Riley Institute Diversity Leadership Initiative.

 






Terence V. Roberts

Mayor

City of Anderson

Mayor Terence V. Roberts has worked in public service for more than 30 years, and he’s now in his fifth term as mayor of his hometown of Anderson.

Roberts’ work has spanned the spectrum from caring for displaced families to advocating for public art. He has worked with many local organizations, including the Municipal Association of South Carolina and Ten at the Top, both of which he served as president; Appalachian Council of Governments; Anderson University Board of Visitors; Salvation Army; and the Rocky River Conservancy board of directors.

As mayor, he has worked with the City Council to create public/private partnerships to revitalize downtown, which has brought restaurants, hotel development, and a municipal parking garage. He is proud that residential occupancy in downtown Anderson is nearly 100 percent.

He is working on the next phase of the city’s Recreation Master Plan, which will include new trails and ball fields.

 






Stephen Smith

Managing Director for South Carolina

CBRE

Steve Smith is Managing Director of South Carolina, where he has executive oversight over all operations in the Charleston, Columbia and Greenville-Spartanburg offices including the Advisory and Transaction Services and Capital Markets teams. With more than 30 years of experience in commercial real estate, he has a passion for connecting the right people and the right skills.

Smith focuses on integrating CBRE’s diverse service lines, including property leasing, management, project management and investment sales to provide comprehensive and creative solutions to clients across the state.

A College of Charleston grad, Smith was named Commercial Realtor of the Year by the Greater Greenville Association of Realtors in 1999.

 






Bob Stegner

Senior Vice President, Marketing, North America

TD SYNNEX

Bob Stegner is an ambassador for Greenville as a meeting location, travel destination, and integral part of TD SYNNEX’s continued growth in the Upstate. As senior vice president, marketing, North America, he oversees marketing across the U.S. and Canada for SYNNEX. He also leads a team responsible for vendor marketing, the company's best-in-class partner communities, and major annual events held throughout North America. In 2020, he was named to the CompTIA IT Hall of Fame in recognition of the impact his career has had on the IT industry. 

He serves on the South Carolina Charities Inc. board of directors and supports the BMW Charity Pro-Am through TD SYNNEX Corporation’s presenting sponsorship. He has been instrumental in TD SYNNEX Share the Magic, a fundraising initiative that raised over $17 million for four Upstate children’s charities from 2021-2022. 

 






Britt Vergnolle

CEO and Co-Founder  

BDV Solutions

Britt Vergnolle oversees BDV Solutions, a company and immigration agency that connects businesses to global talent, especially for hard-to-fill roles.

A onetime personal assistant to David Letterman, Vergnolle returned to South Carolina and, with her husband, started USIA, an international business consulting firm connecting U.S. firms with businesses in China. They started BVD in 2011 and the company now has over 7,000 clients from 106 countries, working with 120 employers in 39 states.

Focusing on solving some of the chronic labor shortages in the region, the business recruits overseas workers through a U.S. immigration program that provides green cards for employees and their families. Vergnolle is also co-founder of Caesars Head Capital, a small private equity firm, and Argo Visa, a consulting firm that specializes in immigration consulting software. Vergnolle is also a co-owner of Camp Glen Arden for girls in North Carolina.

 






Jim Warren

Managing partner

Nexsen Pruet

Jim Warren advises lenders, investors, developers, and public and private companies in a broad range of real estate and economic development transactions.

With a background that spans more than three decades, he helps clients navigate the development and acquisition of retail, industrial, and commercial properties. Warren has been recognized by Chambers, Martindale-Hubbell, Super Lawyers, and Legal Elite on a number of occasions for real estate law and was named the Greenville Real Estate “Lawyer of the Year” by Best Lawyers in 2013.

Admitted to the bar in South Carolina as well as Georgia, he has an undergraduate degree from Duke University and his J.D. from Vanderbilt University Law School. 

 






Evans P. Whitaker, Ph.D.
President and Professor of Management, Leadership and Organizations
Anderson University
Dr. Evans Whitaker has been president of Anderson University since 2002, where enrollment increases have made it South Carolina’s largest private university. 
Under Whitaker’s leadership the university has substantially increased its endowment, added 25 graduate programs and increased its footprint from 63 to 400 acres. He is also a consultant, advising businesses on growth, leadership development and strategic planning. 
Whitaker has served as a trustee for the Conference Board’s Committee for Economic Development in Washington DC and earned a master’s and doctorate from Vanderbilt University. He looks forward to developing two additional engineering majors at AU in 2023 as well as leading a new strategic plan to develop revenue streams. The university plans to field a football team in 2024.

 





Bruce White

Chairman and CEO

Bank of Travelers Rest

Bruce White has been with Bank of Travelers Rest, the bank his father John founded, for more than 50 years, and he was named president in 1977. In 2015, he stepped back from the role of president but remains chairman and CEO.

Bank of Travelers Rest’s services have evolved substantially over the more than four decades since White took over. Beginning in the late 1970s, the bank began offering credit cards, automated payroll, and electronic fund transfers, and in 2013, the bank launched its own mobile app.

The 10th location of Bank of Travelers Rest opened in 2016.

In 2005, White was named Business Person of the Year by the Greater Travelers Rest Chamber of Commerce.